It started at halftime with a meltdown in the locker room as their season melted down on the field. Coach Brian Flores was angry at quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s dismal half. He said things. Tua said things back.
Anger flew. The f-word – gasp! – was traded. Tua said something about Flores not knowing how to talk to people. Flores said something about needing better bleeping play.
That started a sequence of similarly heated conversations that led to owner Steve Ross firing Flores on Monday.
“Communication and collaboration,” Ross said were Flores’ sins in getting fired.
“Disrespect,” was a word a source said Ross felt from Flores in one conversation.
Flores is rough with people. No doubt. He’s tough in talking to players and staff. Without question. What did you expect from someone old-schooled by New England’s Bill Belichick?
But that f-bomb tirade with Tua and other anecdotes I’ve heard wouldn’t crack the Top 100 of “communication and collaboration” issues inside the Dolphins franchise through the years. It wouldn’t crack the Top 50 just involving Hall of Famers.
Don Shula’s office language was so f-bomb loud some team business executives once went to a team intermediary to relay their request to tone it down. “Tell them to f— off,” Shula answered.
His weekly call with NFL official head Art McNally about the previous game’s referee was so loud behind his closed office door that secretaries and coaches stopped their work and cringe-laughed at the language.
And with players? Shula once berated safety Lyle Blackwood so badly in a game the veteran was found crying on the bench. Shula and Jake Scott shot f-bombs at each other like daily salutations. He cursed rookie linebacker John Offerdahl so roundly on a sideline the youngster went into the coach’s office and said he wouldn’t take it anymore.
“Take what?” Shula said. It was so commonplace, he had no idea what Offerdahl was talking about.
You want a “collaboration” issue with a Dolphins quarterback? Let’s talk Dan Marino. His offensive coordinator, Dave Shula, upset him so much in a walk-through practice before a game that teammates had to hold him back from attacking the coach.
“I’m gonna f—— kill him,” Marino said.
Another Hall of Fame coach in Nick Saban — college Hall of Fame, of course — once got into such a loud and profane shouting match in practice with soon-to-be Hall of Fame linebacker Zach Thomas it’s legendary inside the team.
Saban said he’d bench Thomas. Thomas said he wasn’t some college kid.
“I’m a grown-ass man!” Thomas yelled at him.
Another NFL Hall of Fame coach, Jimmy Johnson, once held up a contract offer from receiver Lamar Thomas’ agent in the locker room before many offensive players. “I won’t even wipe my a— with this,’ he said.
Does this help any? Do you understand a coach often is a lion tamer in his daily work? This isn’t a normal workplace with normal professionals. Flores had rough edges. But does it make you wonder just what kind of an organization Ross is running when “communication and collaboration” issues — and not football issues — led to firing the coach?
Not every Dolphins coach used bad words. Cam Cameron, for instance. He had a no-foul-language rule. He once called in trainer Kevin O’Neill and asked him if he actually swore at a player. O’Neill said he did because the player had ignored three requests and swore at him.
So putrid, 1-15 Cam Cameron is the standard now? Are the Dolphins running an elementary school or a pro football team?
Flores, again, was tough to get along with. The revolving-door of an offensive staff was Example A. Flores and general manager Chris Grier could have been fired for messing up a three-year rebuilding starting with the drafting of Tua over Justin Herbert.
But there’s no way in hell — oops, excuse the language — whatever Flores said in “disrespect” even to Ross ranks anywhere close to what Shula said to team owner Joe Robbie.
Shula didn’t refer to Robbie by name to people. He called him an anatomical orifice. He regularly welcomed team staffers to the practice facility with one proviso — they couldn’t report anything to Robbie.
Shula, too, set the standard in all sports for a coach cursing a team owner. At the celebration of their second Super Bowl win at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach, Shula waited for his wife, Dorothy, before starting the ceremony.
Robbie said it was time to start. Shula said to give him a minute. Robbie pressed. Shula got angry.
“We’ve got 1,000 people in there waiting for you!” Robbie yelled. “Let’s get up there!”
“Yell at me again and I’ll knock you on your ass!” Shula yelled back.
“Go ahead, knock me on my ass!” Robbie said.
Shula had a sideline decision to make. Did he punch the owner?
“You ever raise your voice at me again in public and I’ll knock you on your ass!” he said.
How is that transcript accurate? Reporters were there. The back-and-forth was printed nationwide in newspapers. The Archbishop of Miami later interceded to try and help the two good Catholics’ relationship.
And now a Dolphins coach is fired for “disrespect?”
Look, if Ross wanted to fire Flores, it’s his team. Fire him. He’s the owner. Flores is no Hall-of-Fame coach like Shula or Johnson or Saban. But fire him to better the team — not because he got into a f-bomb spat with his quarterback or talked rough with the general manager or owner.
This looks like a soft owner peddling softness through the team. You want a tough owner? Robbie was asked how he put up with Shula.
“I want to win,” he said.
Isn’t that what firing a coach should be about?
Source: Berkshire mont